ICRI Member Colombia is the only South American Country with both Pacific and Caribbean Coasts, with a total coastline of approximately 3000km and an extensive marine area totalling 928,660km2. These marine and coastal areas host a diverse range of ecosystems including coral reefs, mangroves, beaches, seagrass beds, wetlands, seamounts, and other oceanic features.
The official acceptation of Colombia to host the next United Nations Biodiversity Conference, to be held from 21 October to 1 November 2024, is incredibly important for coral reefs and their associated ecosystems as they are vital components of marine biodiversity, and international cooperation is crucial to address the challenges they face.
In announcing Colombia’s offer, H. E. Susana Muhamad, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, said “This is going to be a great opportunity for one of the most biodiverse nations in the world. This event sends a message from Latin America to the world about the importance of climate action and the protection of life. It highlights the commitment of Colombia, of President Gustavo Petro and the entire country, to preserve our planet.”
Although coral reefs are not explicitly mentioned within the GBF, the framework and targets remain applicable. Coral reef conservation is essential for maintaining overall biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the well-being of both marine and human communities. Through the work of the post-2020 ICRI ad hoc committee, the healthy coral reef indicators were presented with three asks for coral.
Moreover, the CBD COP allows member countries to negotiate and establish policies, guidelines, and action plans to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity, including coral reefs. These policies can provide a framework for national and international actions to address specific threats to coral reef ecosystems. The CBD also provides opportunities for capacity building and knowledge exchange among member countries which is important for enhancing the ability of nations to monitor, manage, and conserve coral reefs and their associated ecosystems.
In response to coral reefs, and their associated ecosystems, not being explicitly referenced within the adopted GBF’s 4 goals and 23 targets, ICRI established a new ad hoc committee at the 37th ICRI General Meeting in September 2023, integrating coral reefs into National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).
COP 16 will be the first Biodiversity COP since the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework at COP 15 in December 2022 in Montreal, Canada.